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‘Very Close’ RPTIA Vote Ends RVIA Merger Talks

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November 20, 2009 by   Leave a Comment

The Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association’s (RPTIA) decision to discontinue reunification talks with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) came on a ”very close” vote of the 35-member RPTIA board.

”It was a mixed bag,” said RPTIA Executive Director William R. ”Bill” Garpow. ”In dealing with an organization, you don’t have the same mindset all the time. Basically, we got to the point where there were strong feelings by many companies one way or the other.”

RPTIA announced late Thursday that it was ending ongoing discussions that had been expected to lead to RPTIA, representing less mobile park models, being reabsorbed into RVIA, an association of more conventional towable and motorized RV builders, in some fashion. The decision was made via written ballots submitted by RPTIA’s board members.

”The vote was not unanimous,” Garpow said. ”When we first got into the discussions, it was not unanimous either that we would go forth and examine the possibility. The board wanted to see if it was possible for us to do this. The guys who were against it pushed for a vote.

”The ballots came back and said to stop the negotiations right now. That’s what we are doing.”

Recreation park trailer manufacturers were RVIA members until October 1994 when they left the organization and formed their own group based in the Atlanta suburb of Newnan, Ga.

RPTIA currently has 30 manufacturer members and is operating this year on a $416,000 budget. Like all RV-related business, recreational park trailer manufacturers have been hit hard by the national recession, which appears to be easing.

The sale of RPTIA seals to park trailer manufacturers to affix to units they sell have plunged to about 3,000 through October 2009. That’s a little less than half of the 6,217 seals sold during the same period last year.

Nevertheless, RPTIA President Curt Yoder, vice president and co-owner of park trailer manufacturer Kropf Industries Inc., Goshen, Ind., said a majority of RPTIA board members apparently wanted to remain autonomous.

”A good portion of our board thought that our independence was more important than joining forces with RVIA at this time,” Yoder told RVBUSINESS.com. ”For 15 years we’ve been doing our own thing and a lot of our members felt if it wasn’t broke, don’t fix it. They didn’t see any upside for us to dissolve our association.”

RVIA President Richard Coon expressed surprise at RPTIA’s decision.

”My personal reaction is that their announcement was a bit of a disappointment,” Coon said. ”The two organizations being together is better than being separate. But they obviously don’t feel that way. I’m disappointed and a bit surprised.”

In the big picture, Coon said some recreation park trailer manufacturers may have lingering ill feelings about being asked to leave RVIA 15 years ago and a decision three years ago — since reversed — to exclude RPTIA members of RVIA’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., because of space constraints.

”Some of them were mad about that,” Coon said.

As a matter of fact, the upcoming Louisville Show Dec. 1-3 at the Kentucky Exposition Center is the last year that RVIA has guaranteed inclusion of RPTIA members.

Nonetheless, the discussions between the two organizations have had a positive effect, Coon said. ”I think we are better friends today than when we started the talks,” Coon said. ”We will continue to work with them.”

The decision to halt reunification talks also has rekindled the possibility that RPTIA will move its headquarters to Elkhart County, Ind., the RV manufacturing hub in the U.S. ”The move to Elkhart, that ultimately is our goal,” Yoder said. ”How soon that happens remains to be seen.”

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